Industry at a 'Digital Inflection Point'

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Deborah Green
Deborah Green

When the Long Term & Post Acute Care Health IT Summit began in 2005, it became the single event that I, as a CIO of a large long-term care organization, chose to attend every year. The summit helped me build a network of like-minded pioneers and gain the knowledge needed to confidently lead my organization into the future. It is uplifting, humbling, and a little surprising to see how much has been accomplished since then.

At this year's summit, we were privileged to see LTPAC providers and vendors advancing care coordination efforts with their care partners, putting the “value” into “value-based care,” and examples of telehealth, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics as new strategies to achieve health and wellness in our communities. “The future is here,” as keynote speaker Terry Sullivan, M.D., put it.

At the “lucky number 13” summit, we celebrated not only having a seat at the table but also the hard work that it took to build the table, the conference room, and the building where it resides. The LTPAC Health IT Collaborative (@LTPACHIT) has been instrumental in coordinating nationwide efforts to advance priority areas and in using the summit to share perspectives and engage key stakeholders.

Significant progress has been made on the established themes, last outlined in the 2015 Roadmap for Health IT in Long Term and Post Acute Care Executive Summary, of “making interoperability work” and “enabling individual and population wellness and well-aging.” These goals have now matured into apparent and tangible successes and great opportunity moving forward.

Highlights included having Elise Sweeney Anthony, JD, director of the Office of Policy, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology outlining ways LTPAC can continue our involvement in federal policies. This includes the 2015 Edition final rule for the ONC Health IT Certification Program and its focus on increasing care coordination, care planning, and transitions of care.

Anthony also highlighted opportunities such as the State Medicaid Director Letter, which outlines the availability of federal funding at the 90% matching rate for activities to promote health information exchange and encourage adoption of certified EHRs by Medicaid providers. This letter specifically encourages the consideration of coordinating care with long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, home healthcare providers, or other Medicaid community-based providers. Now more than ever, the LTPAC community will need to be involved in the federal and state regulatory process.

Another speaker, Piyush Pushkar, healthcare business and technology executive at IBM, described the moment as a “digital inflection point.” With a third of the workforce being millennials, we need to embrace this disruptor and an enabler to drive new strategies to achieve health and wellness, he said. Pushkar challenged us to consider technology disruptors in our strategic planning and business models, expand our partnerships, and look at non-clinical data. He maintains that integration of data and trust of that data are key.

In his presentation Terry Sullivan, M.D., agreed that data itself is not enough. We need information from this data to be actionable and at a patient level. The machine learning, predictive analytics, and big data all equates to cognitive clinical science.  Sullivan discussed how we can predict readmissions before a patient is even released from the hospital and how we can identify the optimal length of stay and avoid adverse events. He said that 66% of readmissions are due to medication issues (non-adherence or adverse drug reactions).

Speakers at this year's summit were loud and clear: we have passed the tipping point. The paradigm shift is here. The future is here.

Day two of the summit was the same day that the malware Petya was in the headlines. Perfect day for a panel on cybersecurity! All panelists agreed that cybersecurity is a patient safety issue, not an IT issue or challenge, and offered ways for LTPAC to be a leader of change.  This sentiment was evident in the HIMSS survey results shared at the summit as well, stating that “quality and patient safety outcomes” are the number 1 concern of healthcare providers.

This year's summit was a clear example of the value that LTPAC providers, services, and supports bring to both population and person-centered care.

Deborah K. Green, MBA, RHIA, is the EVP/Chief Innovation and Global Services Officer at the American Health Information Management Association.